Saints co-captain Waller: Last season was a stinker for me
It’s not often you hear players speak so honestly about their own performances.
But Alex Waller was in no mood to hide from how things went for him at Saints last season.
At times, it looked like the sheer number of games the prop has played for the club - he is now on 277 appearances ahead of his 30th birthday on February 14 - had taken its toll.
Waller found it tough to add his weight to the team on a regular basis and was also up against it in the scrum.
But that has all changed this season, with the Saints co-captain back to his best, showing his belief and form have returned under boss Chris Boyd.
“I’m under no illusions that I had a bit of a stinker last year if I’m honest with myself - and I have been,” Waller said.
“I’m enjoying my rugby at the moment and I feel like I’m probably playing some of the best stuff I’ve played in a long time.
“Boydy has given me the confidence early on and rewarded me with the co-captaincy with Tei (Harrison). That helped me.
“I had a solid off-season, worked really hard and I’ve come back and I’m playing some good rugby.
“I’m really enjoying myself and I’m really enjoying the captaincy as well.
“It’s a great bunch of boys to work with and they make my job easy, especially when you’ve got the likes of Woody (Tom Wood), Bigs (Dan Biggar) and Courts (Courtney Lawes).
“There’s some great experience there to nudge you in the right direction should you be struggling.
“It’s a great squad we’ve got together and we’re just getting that right mix of youth and experience.
“It shows with the boys who have been named in the England EPS (Elite Player Squad) and hopefully we can get a few more in the squad towards the later end of the season.”
Next season, Waller will have some new competition for a starting place.
Nick Auterac has signed a deal at Saints, which will see the 27-year-old swap Harlequins for life in Northampton.
He will add to a loosehead department that also includes Francois van Wyk, who, like Waller, has enjoyed an upturn in form.
And Waller said: “I’ve played against Nick a fair few times and I think he’ll be a great addition to our squad.
“I’m looking forward to working with him when he comes.
“We’ll probably lock horns once or twice more this season but as soon as he’s here he’ll be introduced into the squad and welcomed.
“It’s great to add some strength and depth in that position and we’re developing one of the strongest front row depths in the Premiership.
“We’ve got Franner (van Wyk) (Ben) Franksy, myself, Nick now, and on the other side you’ve got Hilly (Paul Hill), other Franksy (Owen) and there are the young boys coming through, Ehren (Painter), Toby Trinder and Karl Garside.
“We’ve also got Manny (Emmanuel Iyogun) who is coming through and he’s going to be a promising star for the future, I can tell you that.
“The boys are all working hard for each other.
“It’s a difficult place to be for some boys not being in the 23 because everyone wants to be out there, but we’ve all got a common goal and we’re all pointing in the right direction, which is half of the battle.”